Following the request of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for ICANN “convene a multistakeholder process to develop a plan to transition the U.S. government stewardship role” with regard to the IANA Functions and related root zone management, a Cross Community Working Group (CWG) was tasked with developing to produce a consolidated transition proposal for the elements of the IANA Functions relating to the Domain Name System (DNS). The CWG has now published its draft transition proposal [PDF, 1.72 MB] for public comment.
Section I: Description, Explanation, and Purpose
This public consultation is part of the process associated with the March 14, 2014, U.S. Department of Commerce announcement1 of its intent to transition key Internet domain name functions (or the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA2) Functions) to the global multistakeholder community. This draft transition proposal is the result of work by the Domain Name System (DNS3) community (the names community) to meet the requirements associated with this transition as defined by the IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG)4. For additional information on the transition process please see https://www.icann.org/stewardship-accountability.
The CWG is looking forward to the results of this public consultation on any elements of the current proposal in order to aid it in finalizing the key aspects of its transition proposal and, to this end, some specific open issues are highlighted and specific questions are highlighted below. However, in presenting this draft proposal in its current form, the CWG is mindful that there are some who are of the view that alternatives to (rather than refinements of) this proposal should still be considered. The CWG remains open to hearing these views.
The Draft Transition Proposal
The draft transition proposal follows the structure of the ICG's Request for Proposals (RFP), with sections 1, 2a and 2b describing the current situation and section 3 forming the heart of the transition proposal. Sections 4, 5 and 6 are currently in development and are directly dependent on the final choices that will be made for section.
In the CWG's discussions a few elements regarding the transition were broadly supported:
- The current operational performance of the IANA Naming Functions is generally satisfactory to its direct customers, and the community generally believes that the current NTIA oversight arrangement has been successful in ensuring the accountability of the IANA Functions Operator in that role. As such, the objective of the CWG is largely to replicate the roles played by the NTIA in the execution and oversight of the IANA Naming Functions as faithfully as possible, while acknowledging that certain changes will be required to contractual terms and arrangements that are particular to contracts entered into with the U.S. government.
- The CWG does not believe that there is a reason to transition the IANA Naming Functions outside of ICANN concurrent with the IANA Stewardship Transition. Maintaining this part of the status quo implies that the new arrangements post-transition should provide the possibility of replacing ICANN as the IANA Functions Operator at a later date, including by means of a Request for Proposal (RFP) or other tender process.
- The proposed replacement solution should not seek to create another ICANN-like structure with associated costs and complexities.
- The proposal should not seek to replace the role of the ICANN multi-stakeholder community with respect to policy development for the Names Community, nor to affect existing TLD policies or how they are currently applied by the IANA Functions Operator.
- The existing separation between ICANN as a policy body and ICANN as the IANA Functions Operator needs to be reinforced and strengthened.
It is important to note that many elements of this proposal are interrelated and interdependent with the Enhancing ICANN Accountability Process and thus are subject to the results of the Accountability Cross Community Working Group on Enhancing ICANN Accountability ("CCWG-Accountability"). It is generally agreed that the transition must not take place until:
- The requisite accountability mechanisms have been identified by the CCWG-Accountability,
- Accountability mechanisms and other improvements that the community determines are necessary pre-transition have been put in place,
- Agreements and other guarantees are in place to ensure timely implementation of mechanisms that the CCWG-Accountability decides may be implemented post-transition.
The transition proposal rests on these elements.
Summary of the transition proposal
At a high level, the transition proposal seeks to create four structures to replace the oversight role played by the NTIA in the execution of the IANA Naming Functions. Certain key aspects of the NTIA's current role, such as its role in approving changes to the Root Zone and its role as a backstop, are still under consideration by this CWG and may result in additions to this proposal.
- Contract Co. – This primary function of this entity (likely a non-profit corporation) is to be signatory to the contract with the IANA Functions Operator. This entity should be lightweight and have little or no staff.
Multistakeholder Review Team (MRT) – The MRT would be a multi-stakeholder body with formally selected representatives from all of the relevant communities (exact composition TBD). The operation of the MRT would be based on the concept of maximum public transparency. The responsibilities of the MRT will include:
- Developing the detailed contract terms for the agreement between Contract Co. and the IANA Functions Operator, based on the key contract terms proposed as part of this proposal and set forth as Annex 3
- Making key decisions for Contract Co. (e.g., whether or not to enter into a rebidding (RFP) process for the operation of the IANA Naming Functions)
- Conducting the IANA Functions Operator Budget Review
- Addressing any escalation issues raised by the Customer Standing Committee (CSC) including the possibility of engaging in enforcement
- Performing certain elements of administration (including periodic performance reviews) currently set forth in the IANA Functions Contract and currently being carried out by the NTIA
- Managing a re-contracting or rebidding (RFP) process for the operation of the IANA Functions, both as an enforcement option and as part of a regular rebidding procedure
Customer Standing Committee (CSC) – While the exact composition is still to be determined, the CSC would primarily be made up of a number of representatives of registry operators, including ccTLD and gTLD registries. Input from the CSC would feed into and inform the work of the MRT. It is possible that the CSC would also include additional individuals with relevant expertise and/or liaisons (or representatives) from other SO/ACs. The CSC would:
- Work with the MRT to establish Service Levels and Performance Indicators for the performance of the IANA Naming Functions
- Receive reports from the IANA Functions Operator including regular performance reports.
- Review these reports against established service levels and escalate any significant issues to the MRT
- Independent Appeals Panel (IAP) – The CWG recommends that all IANA actions which affect the Root Zone or Root Zone WHOIS database be subject to an independent and binding appeals panel. The Appeals Mechanism should also cover any policy implementation actions that affect the execution of changes to the Root Zone File or Root Zone WHOIS and how relevant policies are applied. This need not be a permanent body, but rather could be handled the same way as commercial disputes are often resolved, through the use of a binding arbitration process using an independent arbitration organization (e.g., ICDR, ICC, AAA) or a standing list of qualified people under rules promulgated by such an organization.
Specific areas for input during the public comment period
The CWG is actively seeking input from respondents on its proposal overall as well as the following specific options and questions:
- Input on possible modifications to the Independent Review of Board Actions (section 3.3 of this document) – This arrangement is independent of the NTIA functions and can continue without NTIA involvement in IANA Functions. The independent review of Board actions is applicable to all ICANN Board actions which include non-DNS decisions and as such may be beyond the scope of this CWG's charter. However, in the absence of NTIA oversight and accountability, the CWG is considering whether this review should be binding with regard to delegation/redelegation decisions, and possibly with regard to other decisions directly affecting IANA or the IANA Functions. The CWG will propose arrangements to ensure that all of the IANA Functions Operator's actions related to TLDs are subject to a similar process.
Input on possible modification to the NTIA's responsibilities acting as the Root Zone Management Process Administrator (section 3.4.3 of this document) – Currently IANA must submit a request for all changes to the Root Zone or Root Zone WHOIS database to the NTIA. NTIA verifies the request and then authorizes the Root Zone Maintainer to make the change. The CWG is considering whether to replace this this process with the following:
- Public posting of all IANA change requests – IANA will be required to publicly post all requests for changes to the Root Zone File or the Root Zone WHOIS database as a notification that a change is being made. IANA will also continue to be required to produce and publish Delegation and Redelegation Reports.
- Independent certification for delegation and re-delegation requests – The CWG is considering replacing the authorization role, at least with regard to ccTLDs, with a written opinion from counsel (independent of ICANN) that each delegation and re-delegation request meets the policy requirements cited in the publicly posted reports. The CWG is still in the process of discussing whether and how to replace the authorization role currently played by the NTIA with respect to delegation and redelegation requests, especially those for gTLDs.
- Who should have standing with the independent Appeals Panel? (section 188.8.131.52 of this document) – The CWG recommends that all decisions and actions (including deliberate inaction) of the IANA Functions Operator that affect the Root Zone or Root Zone WHOIS database be subject to an independent and binding appeals panel. The Appeals Mechanism should also cover any policy implementation actions that affect the execution of changes to the Root Zone File or Root Zone WHOIS and how relevant policies are applied. Where disputes arise as to the implementation of "IANA related policies."
- Key contracting provisions – the end of Section 3 refers the reader to Annex 5, which presents key provisions which would be required to be in the first contract between ICANN and the new contacting entity "Contract Co.". A number of these provisions come from the current NTIA IANA Functions Contract and are proposed to be retained in the new contract, either in original or modified form. Several of these provisions include options or questions on which the CWG would also appreciate receiving input.
- Input on a specific (ICANN) alternative solution – The CWG is also seeking input on a specific alternative option, which has been raised within the CWG, which envisages all NTIA responsibilities being transferred to ICANN. This option would require an increase in ICANN accountability to its constituent communities and require the adoption of binding arbitration mechanisms (such recommendations may be beyond the scope of the CWG and probably rest with the CCWG on ICANN Accountability or other groups). Note that this integrated option would impact the future ease or ability to tender for another IANA Functions Operator (other than ICANN). However, to ensure there has been a proper consideration of this option, the CWG, would appreciate input from the community regarding support, or not, for this concept.
Section II: Background
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has requested that ICANN "convene a multistakeholder process to develop a plan to transition the U.S. government stewardship role" with regard to the IANA Functions and related root zone management. In making its announcement, the NTIA specified that the transition proposal must have broad community support and meet the following principles:
- Support and enhance the multistakeholder model
- Maintain the security, stability, and resiliency of the Internet DNS
- Meet the needs and expectation of the global customers and partners of the IANA services
- Maintain the openness of the Internet.
NTIA also specified that it would not accept a proposal that replaces the NTIA role with a government-led or an intergovernmental organization solution.
On June 6 ICANN proposed the creation of an IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG) "responsible for preparing a transition proposal reflecting the differing needs of the various affected parties of the IANA functions."
Two subsets of IANA's global customers/partners, the addressing and Internet protocol parameter communities, led by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the number resource community comprising the Number Resource Organization (NRO), the Address Supporting Organization (ASO) and the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs), have responded to the NTIA's announcement and the formation of the ICG, by establishing working groups to provide input on their specific needs and expectations with respect to the IANA Stewardship Transition. It was determined that the transition proposal should be developed within the directly affected communities (i.e. the IETF for development of standards for Internet Protocol Parameters; the NRO, the ASO, and the RIRs for functions related the management and distribution of numbering resources; and the GNSO and ccNSO for functions related to the Domain Name System). These efforts would inform the work of the ICG, whose responsibility would be to fashion an overall integrated transition proposal from these autonomously developed components.
There is a need for the naming community to similarly come together to articulate its needs and expectations in an integrated fashion, as an integral part of this transition process, and to develop a proposal for the elements of the IANA Stewardship Transition that directly affect the naming community.
The primary goal of the Cross Community Working Group to Develop an IANA Stewardship Transition Proposal on Naming Related Functions (CWG) will be to produce a consolidated transition proposal for the elements of the IANA Functions relating to the Domain Name System. This proposal may include alternative options for specific features within it, provided that each option carries comparable support from the CWG. This proposal must meet the needs of the naming community in general, including the needs of all of the CWG's chartering organizations, as well as the needs of direct consumers of IANA naming services including generic and country code top level domains. Should the CWG deem it appropriate, elements of the proposal may be released in stages.
The key dates of the CWG work plan include:
- 6 October, First meeting of the CWG
- 1 December: Publication date of the Draft Proposal for Public Comment
- 19 January: Submission of the CWG Final Proposal to chartering organizations
- 31 January: Planned submission of the Final CWG Proposal to ICG
Section III: Relevant Resources
- Draft Proposal: https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/cwg-naming-transition-01dec14-en.pdf [PDF, 1.72 MB]
- CWG Charter: https://community.icann.org/x/2grxAg
- Resource Information (e.g. IANA Functions Contract; SSAC Report): https://community.icann.org/x/_iLxAg
- CWG Wiki Space: https://community.icann.org/x/37fhAg
- CWG mailing list archive: http://mm.icann.org/pipermail/cwg-stewardship/
Section IV: Additional Information
In order to brief the community on the contents on this draft transition proposal and encourage community feedback, the CWG will be organizing three identical webinars at different times to facilitate participation across time zones. The webinars will take place on:
- 3 December from 7:00 – 8:30 UTC (time zone converter here)
- 4 December from 12:30 – 14:00 UTC (time zone converter here)
- 4 December from 16:00 – 17:30 UTC (time zone converter here)
For more information about these webinars and how to join, please see: https://www.icann.org/news/announcement-3-2014-12-01-en